I am not a Christian, nor have I ever really been a truly religious person, yet almost every major television show contains and/or explores some realm of the Christian world. Sometimes it’ll be a simple church experience or a reference to the bible, but more often than not it’s a preaching holier than thou cheerleader for all things Jesus. Many shows only explore one side of the Christian landscape; the one with the “greener grass.” You know the type. They are the religious people, the avid church goers that believe it’s their way or the high way yet they naturally don’t lead by example. Supposedly all Christians are the clichéd preacher types who go to any extreme to get to what the Lord would want, however there are a few shows that get it right.
Take the hit teen drama “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” for instance. Character Grace Bowmen is the perfect example for one of God’s disciples. The character grew up in a Christian home with high moral values yet she herself seems to act like the typically portrayed hypocritical religious girl. At first her morals are sound; no sex before marriage, no drugs, no drinking, all of the things you would expect, or at least wish for, from any teenager. Through time she loses her moral compass and “makes love” with the pastor’s son. And yet, ironically so, even after her Christian downfall she deems it appropriate to tell others the right Christian way to live their lives. Characters like Grace Bowmen are the Christians I call the preachers. These characters do as their title suggests and sermonize. It seems like most, if not all the preaching Christians of TV disobey their own beliefs, get knocked down a few pegs, and then maybe mellow out a bit like “Glee’s” Quinn Fabray, who went from the president of the celibacy club to knocked up with her boy friend’s best friend’s baby. That’s the way most shows portray the people of this religion.
On occasion shows will portray the Christian as a believer. Unlike the preacher, believers have their morals and may or may not express them, but they don’t tell others what’s right for themselves. These are the people who where the cross and abstain because they feel they shouldn’t have sex before marriage. These are the Donna Martin’s of the world. She may have gave it up to David in the later seasons, but for the most part, Donna was the believer. The character’s a Christian, a devout believer in God, but she didn’t flaunt it or rub it in others faces. Her religion was something she had, something she could believe in.
It seems as if a lot of shows on TV today as well as in the past are influenced by religion, at least in part. What the writer’s believe is what the script depicts. Religion is a major aspect of life around the globe and should be acknowledged on television, but it should also be portrayed in an accurate way. Not all Christians are highly strung bible thumpers. It would be nice to see both the preachers and the believers without wishy washiness of the hypocritical few. There’s a difference between those that go “I am Christian hear me roar” and the more subtle “I am Christian, I am here and I care.” The first are the pro-lifers protesting outside the women’s clinic or fighting to keep condoms from being available at the school nurse’s office. The latter are the ones that believe what they believe without having to say “I’m praying for you” to every person who had sex or ever did drugs. The TV shows we all know and love have these characters and each are shown differently, but most are in one of two ways. Christians are either represented as the annoying character that talks the talk or the religious yet understanding who don’t choke their friends with their beliefs.